Paul viewed whatever happened to him through the eyes of faith. That remarkable trait allows him to be numbered among giants of the faith like Moses, who, according to Hebrews 11, “left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen” (11:27). Like Moses, Paul endured the hard times by focusing on the eternal. He used his trials as reminders to focus on things not seen. When your heart is right, you can do that.
Awhile back Cynthia and I traveled to Houston for an Insight for Living event. While there we enjoyed a brief visit to the home of some good friends. Being down in the city in which I was reared reminded me of a home she and I had been in many years before. The place had a huge stone fireplace, big enough to crawl into. I relish those rare occasions when I can sit by a roaring fire and read or listen to classical music. I’m a fireplace guy!
Anyway, etched into the massive piece of timber that formed the mantle of that magnificent fireplace were these words:
“If your heart is cold, my fire cannot warm it.”
Cynthia and I will never forget those words above that great stone hearth. There’s no fire in the world that can warm a cold heart. A cold heart stays riveted on the hardship and refuses to see beyond the present. Paul’s heart blazed with the fire of faith, allowing him to see the unseen. That’s what kept him together under pressure. His heart stayed warm.
Nothing of what touched Paul externally would cool him deep within. Rather, it fueled his inner flame. The longer the persecution continued, the hotter his fire for God. He focused on the One who works His eternal purposes in the unseen realm when all around him gave way. Adversity strengthens our faith, consuming the dross of fear and unbelief as it melts away doubts.
“Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV). Hold on to faith!
Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.